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Meeting of Minds in Adams County, CO

Collaboration is key to world-changing life science solutions created in the region.

By Karen Vernon on May 26, 2023

Fitzsimons Innovation Community
Fitzsimons Innovation Community

At Fitzsimons Innovation Community, life science companies, from startups to full-scale manufacturers, enjoy the perfect blend of innovative facilities, academic and health care partnerships, and opportunities to live and play in their own backyard.

Steps away from University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Fitzsimons Innovation Community offers customized facilities where companies find a supportive home for all phases of their growth.

The latest, Bioscience 5, is a flexible facility and the first in the Fitzsimons to offer full-scale manufacturing designed for cell and gene therapy. Just as important is the proximity to collaborators who can help take research discoveries from inception to market. 

The Value of Partnerships

April Giles, vice president of business development for Fitzsimons Innovation Community, says this special blend is attracting companies from across the country and around the world.

“There are few places in the world where one footprint offers this collaborative nature, not just because we share land, but because the leadership of all those institutions believes in the value of partnerships to ensure we are continuously in alignment with one another,” Giles says.

This includes both the advanced facilities on the Fitzsimons Innovation Community campus, and opportunities to bring members of the business, health care and academic communities together in a variety of ways.

There are residences like The Fremont and 21 Fitzsimons, designed and renovated by Tryba Architects, with more units coming over the next few years. The Benson Hotel and Faculty Club, opening in 2023 and under the design of the same architects, will bring plentiful options for meeting spaces and conferences.

New eateries in the Anschutz Health Sciences building include T-Street Kitchen and Cafe and Choice Market, giving residents lots of choices for lunch or dinner. Off campus, the Broadleaf mixed-use residential and retail development is taking shape in Fitzsimons Village, with plans to open in 2024.

Anschutz Medical Campus
University of Colorado

Creating Community

Paige Beeman, medical science liaison for PharmaLogic Holdings Corp., moved from Los Angeles in 2021 and now lives and works in Fitzsimons Innovation Community. Her territory covers the Midwest and Western U.S., so being here lets her get out to the mountains during her off time. 

“I originally thought I’d want to live in downtown Denver,” says Beeman, who was used to the lively entertainment scene of L.A. After visiting the area to prepare for her move, Beeman says, “I quickly found I didn’t need to live right in the middle of downtown to enjoy a vibrant nightlife.”

She found a home in The Fremont residences on the Fitzsimons Innovation Community campus, and the light rail station only a half-mile walk from her apartment can take her to downtown Denver or the airport in under an hour.

“Fitzsimons Innovation Community has done a really good job placing restaurants in the area and creating a great community here,” Beeman says.

She enjoys the food trucks that circulate on the community’s Central Green, and movie nights and concerts on the lawn.

“My partner and I pull out a picnic blanket and bring dinner,” she says. “It’s lovely, and I get to meet my neighbors.”

As for her work, Beeman says, “It is extremely helpful to be close to our customers. Also, I frequently work with researchers and physicians on the medical campuses, which are a 10-minute walk from my office.”

Connection Points

“The collaborations we support in the campus environment are so valuable. Our companies need access to key opinion leaders, research and development partners, and hospital systems to innovate,” Giles says. “We understand the bench-to-bedside applicability of their technologies.”

When companies, researchers and students have the space to come together for water cooler conversations, it advances collaborations and builds all their networks.

“We can build all these amazing connection points and facilities, but really, we want to create an atmosphere to support the companies and help accelerate the work they are doing,” Giles says. “People will be directly impacted by things happening in our community. That’s the end goal for us – to save lives and to create hope.”

University of Colorado
University of Colorado

Revolutionary Research

With Colorado becoming a hub for life science enterprises, it’s no accident that Fitzsimons Innovation Community is located just across the street from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The campus, the largest academic health center in the Rocky Mountains, includes schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Two of the top-rated hospitals in the country, UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado, are located here and treat nearly 2 million patients each year.

“Our mission is education, along with clinical care and research,” says Don Elliman, CU Anschutz chancellor. “We have more than 2,000 faculty members engaged in health care research. Some of these ideas may be translated into commercial activity, so having Fitzsimons Innovation Community directly across the street allows our faculty to engage in this through several collaborative ventures.”

Neighbors Who Innovate

One of these is CU Innovations. “Almost all academic medical campuses work to help faculty navigate the path of commercializing their intellectual property,” Elliman says. “This process is typically very inward-looking, but we thought we could serve our faculty with a slightly different model. We wanted to be more open to working with industry.

“We started CU Innovations with the charge of working with our own faculty and with industries seeking academic partners,” Elliman says. “In order to be competitive, we needed a biomanufacturing facility. This is a highly regulated and very complex operation, and the logical place for this was Fitzsimons Innovation Community.”

Another collaboration, the Gates Institute, is made possible by an investment from the Gates Frontiers Fund and CU Anschutz. It will allow researchers to develop regenerative, cellular and gene therapies more effectively.

“We like to say our faculty can be in their clinic in the morning, in their lab in the afternoon, visit their company at lunchtime and never have to get in their car,” Elliman says. “Many of the companies in Fitzsimons started from our intellectual property, but many others are companies seeking proximity to an academic medical center. So there’s a bilateral flow that is a special and somewhat unique market space. We learn a lot from our external customers, and some of these partnerships have proved very beneficial. Fitzsimons Innovation Community is a big part of this success.”

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